Sunday, March 13, 2005


Issues that might help the Democrats back into power

Advice given with the confidence that it will be ignored

If the Democrats want to regain political power they are going to have to promote issues that play to their natural strength of being seen as a promoters of civil rights of minority groups. I am not saying that they are the party most likely to fight for civil rights, I think welfare and affirmative action are harmful to minorities as well as multicultural relativism, but the African-American community does not believe that and they give overwhelming support to the party which they believe supports them through these programs. In politics perception is everything. I will assume the readers of this article are sophisticated enough to understand this quirk of human nature. Given the perception of the Democratics as stalwarts of civil rights, which has been solidified by Democratic scepticism over post-9/11 security laws, the Democrats have an opportunity to promote new and old issues that significant minorities if not majorities of Americans support but are not currently viewed as Democratic issues.

1) Liberty on the internet: This issue covers a lot of different ideas but they all were created by the internet. Gambling on the internet, sports and poker, is growing by leaps and bounds. This is an opportunity to support an issue that would be very popular with a group that is not a Democratic constituency: young men. Ordering perscription drugs over the internet, many Americans have not problem with circumventing gov't paternalism. This is already a Democratic issue. They should continue to hammer this. Taxing the internet, here the Democrats should go with their natural instincts. TAX IT! Frame it as being only fair to the bricks and mortars business' that have to pay taxes and you will gain the support of small business. Also, internet taxes could be federal taxes thus feeding the beast. (Whoops, a little partisanship slipped in there) Risks: The only Democrat constituencies that might have a problem with these issues are those that are afraid of reducing any gov't control over private life. The Democrats should lose this reflex. It does not help them win elections and we know that embracing issues that win and actually governing are two separate issues.

2) Immigration: The Republican party is going through convulsions over immigration. That means the Democrats have a chance to pick away at Republicans who are angry at a laissez faire attitude in an increasingly security conscious nation. President Bush has made a concerted effort to win Hispanic support by taking a soft tone on immigration issues like border security. The 2004 election shows that this has paid off but Bush is vulnerable and the Democrats can safely increase their rhetoric about the need for security without alienating Democrat Hispanic supporters. Hillary has made noises in this direction. Risks: This will be tricky and will depend on being nuanced. (I prefer that word to two-faced but they mean the same thing to me) A speech calling for giving more money to border guards followed by a call for sensitivity by border guards would satisfy the need for higher levels of security with the desire to treat illegal immigrants as human beings. The risk is alienating open border supporting Hispanics if they misinterpret your rhetoric with actually doing something. A good poltician should be able to walk this tight rope.

3) Homeland security: There are enough libertarian leaning Republicans who are fearful of national ID cards and curbs on free speech for the Democrats to find more than a few supporters. All they need to do is stoke those fears. More reports about unfortunate Americans who are mistreated by the system. Avoid highlighting immigration cases, there is not a lot of sympathy among your target community for those who flout American sovereignty. This is good old fashioned fear mongering. You guys remember how to scare seniors about Social Security. A whispering campaign about the Bush adminstrations plans to tattoo bar codes on babies and you will reap the harvest of Republicans for whom 9/11 is a fading memory. Risks: Almost none, you might be called alarmists but your targets will recognize this as gov't attempts to hide the truth. There is no core Democratic constituency which will be threatened by heated talk of the eroding of the rights of Americans. Ok, maybe a few members of AFSCME might be annoyed but those guys are pros and they will recognize the tactic.

Some of you must be thinking, "Hey, stop telling them how to win." I am sure that Republicans know their weaknesses and I hope they are organized enough to present counter-arguments There is not much risk that the Democrats as a party will adopt any of these tactics in the short term. The reason being Democrats are still trying to maintain old coalitions which have proven to be not large or strong enough to win national or state elections. The Republicans are enjoying a political holliday before the Democrats hit bottom and start the long road to finding new majority-supported issues, embracing them as a party and effectively articulating them. I think we know the Democrats who will be lead them out of the wilderness. Rep. Harold Ford, Barrack Obama even Hillary Clinton have made noises that show they understand that the political landscape of the United States is far different than during the Democratic Party's heydays. If the Republicans want to maintain power they have to make moves towards addressing these issues. The party in power cannot simply carp about their opponents. Republican constituencies want to reap the benefits of power (Note to Bill Frist: your predecessor tried getting along with Democrats and it cost him his leadership position. You are on notice that your supporters will accept nothing less than you exercising raw power and making the Senate Democrats bend to our will) and by putting Republican doctrine into practice there is the risk of alienating some voters. If the Democrats are smart they will attempt to bring disgruntled Americans over to there side by speaking their language.


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